Choosing a course & FAQs

Woman pointing at a draft of a graphic novel

It’s important to read the course descriptions carefully. If it sounds like you’re the intended audience, then it’s probably the right course for you. Apart from Starting to Write and Work-in-Progress courses, our online and residential courses are suitable for writers at any level of experience.

STARTING TO WRITE COURSES

If you have a burning desire to write but feel you have little experience, perhaps you are returning to writing after a long time away, or maybe you have writing experience in one field but are keen to explore a new genre, then a Starting to Write course would be ideal. The Starting to Write courses, both online and residential, are designed to build your confidence within a supportive environment, providing you with the tools to inspire and develop your writing. We offer Starting to Write courses in specific genres and more general Starting to Write courses that include fiction and poetry writing, or fiction and non-fiction. Starting to Write courses include workshops and one-to-one tutorials.

Find a Starting to Write course

GENRE SPECIFIC COURSES

We have a wide range of courses in specific genres e.g. Fiction; Playwriting; Short Story. Writers of all levels of experience are welcome on these courses, and they are offered in a variety of in-person and online formats. These courses will have a focus on generating new writing rather than getting feedback on work-in-progress. Genre specific courses include workshops and one-to-one tutorials.

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WORK-IN-PROGRESS COURSES

For writers who already have significant experience and would like to receive project-specific feedback as well as the space and time to write. We have Work-in-Progress courses in several different genres. Work-in-Progress courses, both online and in-person, include workshops and one-to-one tutorials.

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TUTORED RETREATS

Like our Work-in-Progress courses above, but without morning workshops. Instead you will have four tutorials, two with each tutor, as opposed to two on normal courses. Tutored retreats are suitable for experienced writers, not beginners. We have Tutored Retreats in several different genres, currently only available at our residential writing houses.

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RETREATS

We recommend Retreats for the more experienced writer. All Retreats offer single rooms only. Otherwise, domestic arrangements are the same as for all courses. There is no tuition or tutors present. We have two types of Retreat:

WRITERS RETREATS AT THE CLOCKHOUSE

Choose between four or six days in your own apartment at The Clockhouse, tucked away in the peaceful grounds of our Shropshire centre. Write, plan, walk, think, dream, edit, in solitude, away from it all with no distractions. The Clockhouse has four apartments in total. Writers Retreats at the Clockhouse are untutored.

Find out more about the Clockhouse

RESIDENTIAL UNTUTORED RETREATS

Occasionally we offer untutored retreats at one of our three historic houses – The Hurst, Lumb Bank or Totleigh Barton.  You’ll get time and space to write with a group of up to fifteen other writers, enjoying the inspiring countryside setting. No workshops, no tutorials.

If you’d like help choosing the right course for you do give us a call, on 0204 529 4970, or email national@arvon.org  – we love guiding writers to the perfect course.

COURSE STRUCTURE

5-Day Course Structure

Monday: Arrive in the afternoon, settle in,  enjoy dinner and the tutors’ introduction to the week.

Tuesday: Each morning the tutors lead workshops to help you explore writing ideas, forms and techniques. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. You will have two 20 minute tutorials during the week (one with each tutor), to consider your writing in depth. Tutors read from their work in the evening.

Wednesday: Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. In the evening the guest speaker joins the group for an evening reading or talk, with questions and answers afterwards.

Thursday: Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. You are free to spend this evening as you wish.

Friday: Tutors lead the final workshops in the morning. In the evening everyone gets together to share and celebrate their work.

Saturday: The week comes to a close after breakfast. Have a tissue handy to say your farewells to the group.

Note: One evening during the week you will help cook the evening meal, as part of a team. You’ll also help with some washing up during the week.

5-Day Tutored Retreat Structure

Monday: Arrive in the afternoon, settle in, enjoy dinner and the tutors’ introduction to the week in the evening.

Tuesday: From Tuesday to Friday the focus will be on individual work and one to one time with the tutors. We guarantee an hour with both tutors spread over the four days. On Tuesday evening the tutors will give readings from, or talks about their work followed by Q&A.

Wednesday: From Tuesday to Friday the focus will be on individual work and one to one time with the tutors. On Wednesday evening the guest speaker will join you for a reading and Q&A.

Thursday: From Tuesday to Friday in the mornings and afternoons, the focus will be on individual work and one to one time with the tutors. This evening is free to spend as you wish.

Friday: From Tuesday to Friday the focus will be on individual work and one to one time with the tutors. On Friday there will be the customary sharing of work produced – or honed – during the rest of the week.

Saturday: The week comes to a close after breakfast.

Note: One evening during the week you will help cook the evening meal, as part of a team. You’ll also help with some washing up during the week.

4-Day Short Course Structure

Monday: Arrive at lunchtime; afternoon workshop; after dinner the tutors read from their own work.

Tuesday: Morning workshop; one to one tutorials and time to write in the afternoon; after dinner evening workshop or group session.

Wednesday: Morning workshop; one to one tutorials and time to write in the afternoon; after dinner group celebratory readings.

Thursday: Depart after breakfast together.

3-Day Short Course Structure

Friday: Arrive at lunchtime; afternoon workshop; after dinner the tutors read from their own work.

Saturday: Morning workshop; one to one tutorials and time to write in the afternoon; after dinner evening workshop or group session.

Sunday: One to one tutorials and time to write in the morning; lunch and celebratory readings. Departures by 3.30pm.

Note: Unlike our 5-day courses, there are no cooking responsibilities during short courses.

Online Writing Week

Monday:
Your Arvon Host will welcome you and the tutors to Arvon’s Zoom Writing House in the afternoon, giving you an overview of the week, technology support, and some ideas for making your writing ‘cocoon’. You’ll get to meet everyone, ask questions, and settle in. Your tutors will ask you to start thinking about your writing, perhaps setting an exercise. There’s likely to be some homework for tomorrow morning

Tuesday:
Everyone meets online for the morning workshop around 9:30am, which includes writing exercises, discussion and comfort breaks. From 2pm there will be one-to-one tutorials lasting about 20 minutes each. You have one tutorial with each tutor during the week; the rest of the afternoon is your time to think and write. There will also be an evening session where both tutors read from their work and take questions.

Wednesday:
The timing is just like yesterday…Morning workshops, afternoon one-to-one tutorials and an optional evening check-in. You’ll also get a free ticket to the Arvon Wednesday Live Guest Reading at 7:15pm.

Thursday:
Morning workshops, afternoon one-to-one tutorials and an evening session hosted by both tutors.

Friday:
Your final workshop will take place in the morning, followed by more tutorials in the afternoon. Friday evening culminates with a celebratory reading where you have the chance to share some of your new writing. Expect laughter, tears and a huge sense of pride for all you have learned, written and achieved this week. There’ll be plenty of virtual hugs.

WRITING WEEKS FAQ

How do I work out which course is right for me?

It is important to read the course descriptions carefully when making a decision about what course you want to do – most course blurbs give an indication of the intended audience.  If you feel you fit the bill then it is probably the course for you. Pick a course which is aimed at a level you feel comfortable at. If you have not done much writing before or none at all then a Starting to Write course might suit you best. If you already have a lot of writing experience then you may want to choose a more advanced course.

Whilst the tutors generally set the tone for the course, it is important to pick a course on the basis of subject matter first and foremost. Sometimes tutors have to pull out of courses at the last minute, for various reasons outside of our control, and we will always replace a tutor with someone in the field that the course focuses on.

 

Why do you have to apply to some courses and not to others?

A few courses may be selected courses. This is usually at the request of a particular tutor and is generally used to make sure students are at a similar level. Sometimes it will be because the course requires a certain skill from the outset  – for example,  some musical ability for Songwriting or another language for Translation.

How many people are in workshops?

For online and residential courses, there can be up to 16 participants.  Workshops are run to include the whole group.

Do I have to go to each of the workshops?

The workshops are not compulsory but we would encourage you to go to all of them. Often tutors plan for each workshop to follow the next so missing one may disrupt the flow of the course for you and students tend to find that the more they put into the course the more they will get out of it.  If you do not feel that the workshop learning environment is right for you then you might want to consider booking a retreat or a tutored retreat.

How much of my work will tutors read?

Different tutors will read different amounts of work. It is unlikely they will have time to read more than a few pages but that is generally enough to give them a sense of your writing style and how to advise you.

How much one-to-one time do I really get?

On Writing Weeks, both residential and online, you’ll have approximately 20 minutes scheduled one-to-one time with each tutor during the week, in which time you will be able to discuss your work. Often the tutors will have taken the time to read your work in advance. This time is exclusively for you to get advice on your writing and is a valuable part of the Arvon experience.

Will I have to read my work in front of complete strangers?

Workshops vary from course to course, tutor to tutor. You may be asked to read aloud in workshops and for online and residential Writing Weeks there is always a Friday night reading in which you will be encouraged to read from the work you have done throughout the week. This may seem daunting at first but by the end of the week you’ll have got to know your group and each person will be in the same position. The reading on the last night is a celebration of the week’s work and students usually find that sharing their work is an uplifting experience.

How many hours a day will we spend writing?

Workshops generally run for two or three hours each morning, sometimes you will be asked to write within them, and then the afternoons are free for your own individual writing time. You can use this time in whatever way you choose. Please see the schedule of the week for more details of how the weeks are structured.

Is there a library from which to draw inspiration?

If you come to a residential Writing Week, each house has a library of books and other publications of various genres which you are free to look through and borrow books from while you there.

Is my level of experience right for this course?

Arvon courses are open to everyone, no matter what stage of their writing journey they are at. Arvon encourages people to write for the love of writing, not necessarily to be published or to make a career out of it but because we believe everyone should have the opportunity to give it a try and see where it takes them. You do not have to be good, you do not even have had to have tried it before; you just have to want to give it a go. If you pick a course pitched at a level that suits you then you will probably find that most people on the course are at a similar level to you.

How can I prepare for my course?

To get the most out of your course, we strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with some of the tutors’ work – it will make the world of difference. If, during the week, you would like your tutors to read some work that you have already written, please bring two printed copies. Be aware that it is unlikely they will have the time to read more than a few pages, but that is generally enough to give them a sense of your writing style and how to advise you.

Accommodation and Food FAQ

Everything you need to know about your room, what's provided, what to pack, accessibility, food and more.

What happens on an Arvon Writing Week?

Residential Writing Weeks run from Monday afternoon to Saturday morning, and from Monday to Friday for Online Writing Weeks. You’ll typically have a workshop each morning, and free time for writing and one-to-one tutorials in the afternoons. In the evenings we’ll host readings by the tutors and guest, and on the last night you’ll share your work with the group as part of a relaxed and friendly celebration.